A 1-2 PUNCH FOR DEEP WATER BASS
Summertime and the living is easy- so goes the song. The bite has slowed dramatically, especially in the brutal heat. However, true trophy bass are still out there, and a lot of them are feeding as if spring never ended. The challenge is knowing where, when, and how to catch’em. Generally, when the calendar says "1st Day of Summer", the big girls have moved deeper to the ledges, deep timber, and drop-off points. Fish start relating to the bottom. In the early summer, they can be in as little as 20 feet of water. As summer moves on, fish gradually move deeper, and you could find yourself needing to fish as deep as 50 feet at the height of the season.
There are a variety of ways to get them to bite, but there are two baits in my “Dog Day Arsenal” that consistently spell SUCCESS for me- presentations that I keep “front and center” during summer- the Cover Shot, and the Carolina Rig. Nothing new or fancy, but very effective, particularly in and around deep-water timber. For starters, it is important to know a few key differences between these two to better understand how they can work together. The Carolina Rig is good for making long casts. It can be worked across the bottom of large areas, and help you locate unseen structure. The Cover Shot allows you to effectively target a particular spot on a point, or a specific location amongst the trees. In a kayak, these lures used in tandem have cashed a lot of checks for me from late June into September
So, what’s the situation? Think of a long point with some scattered trees, an area with laydown wood, or maybe with some deep boulders. A particularly good area to target is one where there’s a good ledge leading to the main lake. In the morning, start on the shallow end- skinny to 10 feet. In the afternoon, locate the thermocline and go from there.
A mistake people make when targeting deep fish in clear water is positioning directly over the cover. You should always be careful not to make too much noise when approaching a good spot. Big bass can be very finicky. Ideally, I pedal into the wind with the sun in my face so my shadow is cast away from my target, and I can maintain a position in open water. This doesn’t always work perfectly, and it may be helpful to use an anchor trolley system if the terrain, or bottom contour would help to hold your position. It is not what most anglers think to do, but your target is deep, so, if you can, position so you can cast from shallow to deep water.
As you approach, start making long throws with the Carolina rig into the target area. The better fish are often around the cover, not actually in it. Throw from a distance and don’t get the boat closer than 20 or 25 feet from the cover while working that target. This allows the bait to fall more naturally through the potential strike zone without having the boat directly overhead. Remember, fish often position facing the deep and they ambush from a point of cover like a ledge, or tree.
Work it slowly! I cannot stress SLOWLY enough. Work the area as slowly as possible from every angle available. Pay attention to how the sun casts shadows and look for the shady spots first. Drag the rig over every limb, rock, and depth transition. Let it fall and sit between the limbs. If you get a bite, throw it again beyond that spot, and bring it right back with the same bait. They could be stacked up. If that doesn’t work, quietly set the C-rig down and pick up the cover shot. This time make a direct cast to the point of the bite and hold it there. Some people will let this bait sit for several minutes. My patience only allows me to hold it still for +/-30 seconds. Don’t waste time dragging the cover shot too much. Instead, target specific trees, rocks, or schools relating to the bottom, and let it sit in the strike zone as long as you can.
I fish these rigs together around big trees, so I find it useful to use 20# braid with a 20# fluorocarbon leader. At the business end I use a small heavy-duty hook on my cover-shot. For my plastic, I like using finesse trick worms like the Strike King 3x ultrafinesse 4” worm, or a Zoom trick worm. Sometimes a small Rage-Tail craw can be deadly too. For my Carolina Rig, I like a 7’5” MH baitcaster with 25# braid, and an 18-24” 20# fluorocarbon leader under a swivel. The shape and size of the weight depend on the situation so don’t be afraid to tailor this to your liking. My plastic is often a big worm or craw for this rig, but if there are shad present, I change to a 3.75” Rage-Tail Swimmer on a Superline hook.
This is a good one-two punch to pick up giants off deep cover in the late summer months, and it can be effective fishing deep in and around timber and brush piles. It may not be your strong suit, or even a favorite way of fishing, but it is something that I have learned and used to good results.
Zachery Warren, iBass360's kayak bass tournament specialist, participates in on-line and live tournaments in Oklahoma where he is currently defending state champion, as well as select tournaments in Texas and Louisiana. A carpenter by trade, Zach has graduated from beginner kayak status and, over the years, has upgraded to new kayaks as his skills have increased.That process has allowed him to undertake many "DIY"-do it yourself- projects to improve the ease of fishing out of a kayak. Zach often shares his tips through the iBass360 blog for which we are very grateful. Zach is a valued member of the Old Town Kayak Fishing Team.